This is an easy read novel about two teenaged sisters who learn to fend for themselves, and each other, from a very young age. Written from the perspective of the younger sister, Bean who is twelve, we learn that her fifteen year old sister Liz has often been her primary caregiver when her mother, a bipolar dreamer, takes off to chase her music and acting dreams. They live on chicken pot pies and always manage until her mother takes off for longer than usual and the shopkeeper who sells the pies alerts child services. Not wanting to be put in foster care, Liz and Bean escape by bus from California to Virginia to show up on the doorstep of her mother's childhood home, now occupied by their widowed, reclusive uncle. Her mother had fled when Bean was an infant, abandoned by Liz's father and unwilling to marry Bean's, who later dies in mysterious circumstances.
In Virginia, Bean learns about her father and is warmly embraced by his family - labourers in the local mill which Bean's ancestors founded and later owned. Even the town's main street bears Bean's last name. Bean's strong personality eventually even wins over her uncle who has been worn down by a series of tragedies. But Liz has a harder time fitting in - she does not like to conform and conformity is the norm in small town Virginia. And when the girls do odd jobs for a foreman at the mill Liz finds herself in trouble that pushes her further into herself and prompts Bean to take public action.
Mostly this is a great story of the strength two young girls find in themselves and each other when they think there is no one else out there for them. And how they eventually use that strength to find a larger community.